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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

Every eye was fastened with severe inquiry upon Sir Kay. But he was equal to the
occasion. He got up and played his hand like a major--and took every trick. He said he
would state the case exactly according to the facts; he would tell the simple
straightforward tale, without comment of his own; "and then," said he, "if ye find glory
and honor due, ye will give it unto him who is the mightiest man of his hands that ever
bare shield or strake with sword in the ranks of Christian battle--even him that sitteth
there!" and he pointed to Sir Launcelot. Ah, he fetched them; it was a rattling good
stroke. Then he went on and told how Sir Launcelot, seeking adventures, some brief time
gone by, killed seven giants at one sweep of his sword, and set a hundred and forty-two
captive maidens free; and then went further, still seeking adventures, and found him (Sir
Kay) fighting a desperate fight against nine foreign knights, and straightway took the
battle solely into his own hands, and conquered the nine; and that night Sir Launcelot
rose quietly, and dressed him in Sir Kay's armor and took Sir Kay's horse and gat him
away into distant lands, and vanquished sixteen knights in one pitched battle and thirty-
four in another; and all these and the former nine he made to swear that about
Whitsuntide they would ride to Arthur's court and yield them to Queen Guenever's hands
as captives of Sir Kay the Seneschal, spoil of his knightly prowess; and now here were
these half dozen, and the rest would be along as soon as they might be healed of their
desperate wounds.
Well, it was touching to see the queen blush and smile, and look embarrassed and happy,
and fling furtive glances at Sir Launcelot that would have got him shot in Arkansas, to a
dead certainty.
Everybody praised the valor and magnanimity of Sir Launcelot; and as for me, I was
perfectly amazed, that one man, all by himself, should have been able to beat down and
capture such battalions of practiced fighters. I said as much to Clarence; but this mocking
featherhead only said:
"An Sir Kay had had time to get another skin of sour wine into him, ye had seen the
accompt doubled."
I looked at the boy in sorrow; and as I looked I saw the cloud of a deep despondency
settle upon his countenance. I followed the direction of his eye, and saw that a very old
and white-bearded man, clothed in a flowing black gown, had risen and was standing at
the table upon unsteady legs, and feebly swaying his ancient head and surveying the
company with his watery and wandering eye. The same suffering look that was in the
page's face was observable in all the faces around--the look of dumb creatures who know
that they must endure and make no moan.
"Marry, we shall have it again," sighed the boy; "that same old weary tale that he hath
told a thousand times in the same words, and that he will tell till he dieth, every time he
hath gotten his barrel full and feeleth his exaggeration-mill a-working. Would God I had
died or I saw this day!"
"Who is it?"
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